Monthly Archives: February 2019

Prayer Before Action A Reflection on the Bishops’ Retreat

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, was the leader for the Bishops' Retreat in January. (photo: Catholic News Agency)

by Father Peter Mangum, Diocesan Administrator

We just celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and have brought the Season of Christmas to a conclusion. May the graces of that blessed season of peace and joy remain with us throughout 2019!

I think back to the Baptism of our Lord, which concluded the Christmas season. What was Jesus doing right after He was baptized? The Gospel of Luke tells us: “After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,” He saw the Holy Spirit descend and heard His Father’s voice, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)

Jesus speaks with His Father, and then Heaven opens above Him. Prayer first. The next thing Jesus did, according to Sacred Scripture, was to go off into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, “filled with the Holy Spirit” it says, where He prayed and fasted, (“went on retreat” we could say) and only then did He start to teach!

The importance of prayer before action is seen throughout Sacred Scripture: the need to be prompted by the Holy Spirit and filled with the Holy Spirit before acting is essential to move forward in the way God wants us to.

How wonderful our long tradition in the Catholic Church is regarding the necessary relationship between prayer and action, and the importance of prayer preceding action (a lesson for us all). How many of us come up with our plan of action and then get on our knees and ask the Lord to help us accomplish it? But we’re supposed to get on our knees first, find out what the Lord wants us to do, and then, guided by the Holy Spirit, we get to work.

I was away the first week of January with the bishops of this country on a retreat at a seminary north of Chicago. This was at the request of Pope Francis who wanted all the leaders of dioceses (as a group) to take time together in prayer (as a group) on the crisis of faith and conscience and credibility related to the abuse scandals, cover-ups and lack of action. The pope was so insistent on this that he sent Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the very holy Capuchin preacher to the last three popes, to direct the retreat under the theme of “He Appointed Twelve, to be with Him and to Send Out to Preach” based on Mark 3:14. Here’s the same pattern: Jesus appointed 12 disciples (whose successors are the bishops) first to be with Him, and only after that to go about the ministry!

photo/ Catholic News Agency

At the very start of the retreat, an eight-page letter was handed out to us from the pope, dated the day before. It was written to the bishops for the beginning of the retreat. In it he says that the bishops’ “credibility… cannot be regained by issuing stern decrees or by simply creating new committees or improving flow charts, as if we were in charge of a department of human resources.” (emphasis mine) This is precisely what the bishops, acting in a very American pragmatic way and without praying first, were trying to do back in November at the USCCB meeting where Pope Francis told them to postpone the vote for new procedures. He goes on to say that the Gospel demands a change of heart, and that the time and space a weeklong retreat together can provide for silence, prayer and penance is so essential to undertake necessary reforms, and to receive the grace, courage and freedom to reform themselves and the Church.

The pope’s goal was to draw the group of very different men and their ideologies, theologies, ecclesiologies and ways of doing things, closer to one another and our Lord to seek together to find the wisdom and strength necessary to meet the great challenges ahead.

I must admit, I didn’t realize how divided many of the bishops actually are, against each other, or against various groups of bishops, and even with their issues concerning the pope. I asked several bishops about this and they simply responded, “Yes, it’s true.” The pope knows it is true, as he addressed it in his letter, and he knew that huge decisions the bishops face could not be made by a group who were divided; they could not come up with a plan of action and just pray it worked.

Our retreat master, a man steeped in Sacred Scripture and the early Church Fathers, spoke to us several times each day, both in formal conferences and in the homilies at Mass. There was time for quiet reflection, including silent meal times, adoration, Morning and Evening Prayer, as well as talks about the need for “Intimacy with Christ” as our first priority and what it means for the successors of the apostles “to stay with Jesus” on a personal and existential level, and to share Jesus’ “Ardent Prayer for Unity.”

We all participated in a beautiful Penitential Service led by one of the cardinals, themed “The Church on Her Knees,” highlighting the need to personally seek forgiveness and seek forgiveness as a group. There were multiple opportunities for confessions throughout the week, to which many of us availed ourselves.

Through it all, every bishop was so aware of the pain of everyone who has been let down by the Church.

The pattern was established for us all: Prayer and discernment first, then action. Retreat was essential — not to surrender and hide from reality, but to retreat to all that is real and most important, mindful that the future does not rest with any of us alone, but that it belongs to God.

A lasting conversion for the Church will not come without prayer. So this retreat ahead of next month’s Vatican summit on this very issue, (and the gathering of U.S. bishops in June) has given the bishops an opportunity to pray before acting, to heal divisions, work together, and discern the path forward under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit we heard about at the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, who prepared the Son of God for ministry, but only after He prayed and spent time in retreat.

Now that the prayer and reflection has happened, my prayer and yours (I am sure) is that the bishops have the grace to understand where God is leading the Church and the courage to go there!

In our own lives we hope to follow the same pattern: to get on our knees first and find out what the Lord wants us to do, then, guided by the Holy Spirit, we get up and get to work.

Continuing the Mission: 2019 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

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by John Mark Willcox

One might ask these days, “Since our diocese is without a bishop, will we be conducting the Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal?” The answer to that question is a resounding YES! Even though the Diocese of Shreveport is without a chief shepherd, the needs of our Catholic faithful have not dissipated, in fact they remain constant, and some of these needs have even grown larger.

As with our Appeal each year, major funds are allocated to providing for our retired and infirm clergy while subsidizing the education of our seminarians who will become our future priests. Our list of retired priests includes nine holy men who have given a life of service to the people of our diocese and they are certainly worthy of Appeal assistance. Replacing these men with newly ordained priests remains an urgent priority and your Appeal donations support the cost of room and board for educating our seminarians. Our diocese is fortunate to have a strong contingent of seven men in seminary training and we were blessed to ordain Fr. Duane Trombetta to the priesthood in 2018 and look forward to Kevin Mues’ ordination in May of this year!


The charitable endeavors of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, Campus Ministry still depend on Appeal generosity to actively pursue their missions to make a real difference in thousands of lives within our regional boundaries. Appeal funding this year will help fund efforts to increase the leadership capacity of our diverse and growing Hispanic population. It also sponsors outreach to our youth and young adults through programs like “Theology on Tap,” which serves and supports members among our faithful in their young years of adulthood.

Appeal dollars also support our Office of Catholic Schools, catechesis for our youth in local parishes, and consistent, high quality liturgies through our Office of Worship. Our wonderful Slattery Library is now staffed each weekday and our Appeal supported Safe Environment Program continues to assist our parishes and schools in providing the very best in enriching environments for youth and young adults. Every issue of our monthly diocesan news magazine, The Catholic Connection is also completely funded by your generosity to our Appeal.

“Continuing the Mission” is our Appeal theme for this year and that is exactly what we intend to do,” comments our Diocesan Administrator, Very Rev. Peter B. Mangum. “So much of our outreach and ministry as a committed family of Catholic Christians is impacted by our Annual Appeal and that is why we plan to work diligently to keep the success of our Appeal a priority. I ask that every capable member of our united Catholic family choose to support our Appeal this year so that working together, we can see to the many needs of our worship community.”

Appeal Sunday this year falls on February 17th; please take some time until then to consider your 10-month pledge to support our array of Appeal ministries. A pledge card can be found on page 31, and you may use this to facilitate your annual gift to our Appeal. Please take time to join me in prayer for the success of our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal.

Diocese of Shreveport Annual Financial Report for 2018

Click to download and read the full report in PDF.

Joe Landreneau Inspires Faith and Law at Loyola

by Bianca Stakes

Joe Landreneau joined the Loyola family as a law teacher after years of work as an attorney in private and public legal practice. Devoted to Catholicism and law studies, he has brought a special experience to learning the ins and outs of court proceedings.

Landreneau began his secondary education career as an instructor in Huntington High School’s law and business magnet program before bringing his expertise to Loyola in August. The Flyers always strive for academic excellence, but the objective of secondary education for Landreneau goes beyond curriculum and straight to the hearts of students.

“I see teaching as a service-oriented opportunity,” Landreneau said. “Serving the underlying mission of the Church and the community of Shreveport by building strong, ethical leaders for the future matters to me.”

Landreneau’s course design has students starting the fall semester focused on court proceedings and finishing the spring semester focused on a business law perspective.

Each of his law studies students participates in Mock Trial, which allows students to develop greater knowledge of court proceedings in civil and criminal cases. Students are also encouraged to participate in Loyola’s inaugural Flyers and Buyers business expose in the spring to present business pitches to a panel of established entrepreneurs.

Landreneu’s involvement in Mock Trial pairs with service as an assistant coach on the football team. He believes this additional time with students invites further engagement in the classroom and more opportunities to be the example of faith he has in Catholic education.

“We’re on a mission to build the kingdom of God, and that’s not something that just happens by chance. You have to work at it and develop habits along the way,” Landreneau said.

“There are teachers from when I was in Catholic school that helped me develop habits that have served me well, particularly when I’ve been in professional environments that have been hostile to my faith. That’s what I see as important in this very formative time of life, during their high school years, and if they can form those habits now, when they go off to college and off to start working in a professional environment, they can carry that faith life with them.”

Savant & Dufrene Named St. Joseph Students of the Year

St. Joseph Catholic School is proud to announce our Students of the Year for 2018-2019:  (5th grade) Ezekiel Savant, (8th grade) Audrey Dufrene. Each year, members of the faculty and staff volunteer to form a committee that interviews each candidate as part of the process for choosing a Student of the Year to represent SJS.  The caliber of candidates each year makes it difficult on this committee, and this year was no different.  All candidates exhibit dedication to their studies, leadership skills, a strong Catholic identity and exemplary behavior in the classroom.

Zeke Savant has attended SJS since PreK-3.  He is smart, well rounded, and works very hard. He is very responsible, a great friend to everyone, and is always willing to help others. Audrey Dufrene has been a Falcon since K-5. She is self motivated, goes above and beyond, and she always puts forth the maximum effort. She is kind, helpful and very smart.
This year also brought about the return of a Christmas play to SJS, a great performance called, “Believe,” by Faye Couch Reeves.  The entire student body participated in this performance, either as a class, singing Christmas carols between scenes, or as an actor.  The play centers around a child who wants to believe in Christmas, but is struggling to find peace in the midst of greed, busy schedules and shopping. From Pre-K3 through 8th grade, the play offered both beautiful sounds of the Christmas season, as well as a great message for all who strive to focus on the birth of the Christ child.

JGS School Announces Pre-K 2 Program

Coming August 2019, Jesus the Good Shepherd School is excited to announce the expansion of their successful pre-kindergarten program to include Pre-K2. The Pre-K program at JGS currently consists of two sections of Pre-K3, two sections of Pre-K4 and will now include two sections of Pre-K2. Children who are 2 years of age by September 1, 2019 will be eligible for enrollment. Registration for the Pre-K2 program will begin in February. For inquiries, please call the JGS school office at 318-325-8569.

Gill Selected to Sing in All-State Choir

St. Frederick High School student Anna Grace Gill was selected to participate in the LA-ACDA All-State Choir in November where she had the privilege of working with world-renowned composer, Z. Randall Stroope. This also qualified her to represent SFHS at the District One Honor Choir at the University of LA at Monroe in January. Anna Grace is the daughter of Mitchell & Monique Gill. Pictured are Anna Grace, her mother Monique Gill, and Jennifer Patterson, SFHS choir director.

St. John’s Second Graders Welcome Newly Baptized Babies

St. John Berchmans School’s 2nd grade First Holy Communion class created cards for the newly baptized babies at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. They delivered the cards to Family Life Director, Dotye Sue Stanford, who will deliver them to the families.

Haney Named Fatima’s Student of the Year

Our Lady of Fatima School has named their 5th grade Student of the Year, Luke Haney. He and his parents Randy and Stephanie Haney, are pictured.

Catholics and Methodists: Working Together to Bring Christ’s Message of Love to the Poor and Vulnerable

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by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA)has been working together with area Methodist churches to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ’s message of love to the poor and vulnerable by providing quality social services to families and individuals without discrimination. Through the relationships that have been established with local United Methodist Churches, CCNLA is carrying out its vision statement: Together we invest in people to alleviate poverty, distress and injustice.

Since 2013, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana and First United Methodist Church (FUMC) Shreveport have established a partnership in which FUMC financially supports the Emergency Assistance Program at CCNLA on a monthly basis. In fact, although FUMC does manage a grant system open to organizations in the community, CCNLA holds the distinction of being one of only just a handful of local organizations that FUMC has decided to include as a line item on their annual budget.

“We love the way they do the program, constantly assessing it and finding ways to make it bigger and better,” said Michelle Osborn, Director of Local Missions at FUMC Shreveport. “We feel that the Catholic Charities organization is a very good steward of [our] funds.”

Osborn and her department refer the many people who contact FUMC every month for rent and utility assistance directly to Catholic Charities of North Louisiana. She estimates that no less than five people a day contact her office asking for help, a figure that she feels is extremely conservative.

“We really believe in what that program does,” Osborn said. “We really do. And we need it.”

A direct result of this partnership is that FUMC Shreveport recently announced that it is increasing its annual funding to CCNLA.

Broadmoor United Methodist Church regularly supports CCNLA’s Gabriel’s Closet program through their donations of baby items and clothing. A year-round drop-off center is located at Broadmoor Methodist for members to donate items for Gabriel’s Closet and a baby’s crib holds the donations until they are delivered to Catholic Charities multiple times throughout the year.

This past summer, Catholic Charities was honored when Shawn Hornsby, Associate Minister at First United Methodist Church in Monroe, accepted a position as a board member for CCNLA. Hornsby saw the value in what Catholic Charities does and advocated for funding from FUMC Monroe to support the Emergency Assistance Program that CCNLA now receives.

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana continues to be blessed by the relationships with these other churches and look forward to what more we can do together in 2019!